How the Russian Economy Looks …

… If You Aren’t Wearing Nato Night-Fighting Goggles

by John Helmer

Naked Capitalism (July 09 2017)

If your enemy is waging economic war on you, it’s prudent to camouflage how well your farms and factories are doing. Better the attacker thinks you’re on your last legs and are too exhausted to fight back. A new report on the Russian economy, published by Jon Hellevig, reveals the folly in the enemy’s calculation.

Who is the audience for this message? US and Nato warfighters against Russia can summon up more will if they think Russia is in retreat than if they must calculate the cost in their own blood and treasure if the Russians strike back. That’s Russian policy on the Syrian front, where professional soldiers are in charge. On the home front, where the civilians call the shots, Hellevig’s message looks like an encouragement for fight-back – the economic policymaker’s equivalent of a no-fly zone for the US and the European Union. It’s also a challenge to the Kremlin policy of appeasement.

Hellevig, a Finnish lawyer and investment analyst has been directing businesses in Russia since 1992. His Moscow-based consultancy Awara has published its assessment of Russian economic performance since 2014 with the title, “What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger”. The maxim was first coined by the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He said it in a pep talk for himself. Subsequent readers think of the maxim as an irony. Knowing now what Nietzsche knew about his own prognosis but kept secret at the time, he did too.

Hellevig’s report can be read in full at {1}.

The headline findings aren’t news to the Kremlin. It has been regularly making the claims at President Vladimir Putin’s semi-annual national talk shows; at businessmen’s conventions like the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”); and in Kremlin-funded propaganda – lowbrow outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik News, and the highbrow Valdai Club. A charter for a brand-new outlet for the claims, the Russian National Convention Bureau, was agreed at the Saint Petersburg forum last month. Government promotion of reciprocal trade and inward investment isn’t exceptional for Russia; it is normal practice throughout the world.

The argument of the Hellevig report is that the US and Nato campaign against Russia has failed to do the damage it was aimed to do and that their propaganda outlets, media, and think-tanks are lying to conceal the failure. Small percentage numbers for the decline in Russian GDP and related measures are summed up by Hellevig as “belt-tightening, not much more”. Logically and arithmetically, similarly small numbers in the measurement of the Russian recovery this year ought to mean “belt expanding, not much more”. But like Nietzsche, Hellevig is more optimistic. Here’s what he concludes:

* Industrial Production was down merely 0.6%. A handsome recovery is already on its way with an expected growth of three to four percent in 2017. In May the industrial production already soared by a promising 5.3%.

* Unemployment remained stable all through 2014~2016, the hoped-for effect of sanctions causing mass unemployment and social chaos failed to materialize.

* GDP was down 2.3% in 2014~2016, expected to more than make up for that in 2017 with two to three percent predicted growth.

* The really devastating news for “our Western partners” (as Putin likes to refer to them) must be – which we are the first to report – the extraordinary decrease in the share of oil & gas revenue in Russia’s GDP.

* In the years of sanctions, Russia has grown to become an agricultural superpower with the world’s largest wheat exports. Already at the time of the Czars Russia was a big grain exporter, but that was often accompanied with domestic famine. Stalin financed Russia’s industrialization to a large extent by grain exports, but thereby also creating domestic shortages and famine. It is then the first time in Russia’s history when it is under Putin a major grain exporter while ensuring domestic abundance. Russia has made an overall remarkable turnaround in food production and is now virtually self-sufficient.

* Russia has the lowest level of imports (as a share of the GDP) of all major countries … Russia’s very low levels of imports in the global comparison obviously signifies that Russia produces domestically a much higher share of all that it consumes (and invests), this, in turn, means that the economy is superbly diversified contrary to the claims of the failed experts and policymakers. In fact, it is the most self-sufficient and diversified economy in the world. Our argument that Russia’s economy is the most diversified in the world is easily proven by World Bank statistics on the share of imports of goods and services as a percentage of the GDP. This is illustrated by Chart 17, which compares the levels of import of Russia with a sample of countries. Hellevig also urges using his purchasing power parity measure (“PPP”) of real output and goods flows {2} rather than a nominal measure based on devalued currency exchange rates.

* We predict Russia to push through the four trillion level in 2017 and overtake Germany by 2018 to become the world’s fifth biggest economy.

David Low’s cartoon in the London Evening Standard of October 31 1939, two months after the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed, and after Poland was invaded. Germany is now tied by the US and Nato to the Ukraine, and the guns are drawn openly. Not even guarded rapprochement between Germany and Russia is possible; there is no significant political support for it among German voters.

Hellevig’s point deserves repeating – the Russian economy is far more diversified than the enemy thinks. Naturally, that makes Russian targets less vulnerable but doesn’t deter the enemy from intensifying his attack. The enemy isn’t as simple-minded as his own propaganda sounds.

A glance at the way in which the Moscow stock exchange index (“MICEX”) has been moving in relation to the movement of the Brent marker price for crude oil illustrates how the markets, Russian and international, think. The chart shows positive sentiment for the future of the Russian economy cut its tie to the value of exported energy between November of 2014 and January 2015. Since then the market assessment looks like it has been more aligned with Hellevig than with Washington.

RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET VALUE CROSSED OVER THE OIL EXPORT PRICE AT THE END OF 2014

Key: yellow=MICEX index; blue=Brent oil price. Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/INDEXCF:IND

That’s not what the chart lines mean, according to major institutional investors. They believe the crossover occurred when Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8; the gap between share price and oil price opened on market optimism that he would order the lifting of sanctions and other warfare measures. Once Trump took the oath of office on January 20, and the oil price started to rise, the lines converged:

Key: yellow=MICEX index; blue=Brent oil price. Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/INDEXCF:IND

Hellevig warns against illusions:
 

Russia must understand that the Russia containment strategy of the West will be there for years to come, and will only disappear the day when they gather the courage to understand that Russia has overcome. Therefore, Russia must root all its economic strategy and development efforts in a firm understanding of this reality, and never to count on West in anything. Russia must focus on China, the East, and the rest of the world.

 

In war, feats of courage, while awarded medals after the event, are usually irrationally motivated when they happen. Instead of courage to understand, Hellevig may mean something more like cost-benefit analysis, as performed in the minds of voters. When American or European voters calculate that war against Russia is threatening their interests, then there may be a change in the war policy towards Russia. For US voters to turn against war, war must hurt.

Hellevig doesn’t have a programme for that as much as a programme for changing hearts and minds in the policy-making centres of Moscow. Here are his recommendations:

* All further privatization, based on the failed globalist liberal ideology, must be rejected and instead Russia must strengthen state ownership in key branches of the economy, in order to build globally competitive national champions.

* Russia’s highly successful import substitution program [must continue]. This is the kind of thing Russia must continue to invest in, but not forgetting to heed our advice, that state ownership must be guaranteed in the new fledgling industries.

* Russia must also speed up investments in transport and other public infrastructure as well as investment in urban renewal and amelioration programs, in the way it has been done in Moscow.

* Cut interest rates. In a bewildering policy motivated by inflation targeting, the Russian Central Bank has inflicted record high real interest on the economy ever since the end of 2015. Presently the primary real interest rate stands at a stunning five percent. This is an unprecedented situation in a global comparison. On the contrary, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have fought against recession by bringing the real interest rates to historic lows, even to negative territory. Without this excessive austerity, the Russian economy would have fared yet much better, especially so the consumer … Both charts show that the birth rates have fallen with high real interest rates. The Central Bank, therefore, must take urgent measures to reduce the gap before the situation worsens further.

Who does Hellevig think, from Putin on down, believes these things, or is even willing to consider the case for them?

Sergei Glazyev is obvious, but he is window-dressing in the Kremlin wall. Not one of his policy recommendations has been adopted, nor even endorsed in public by the president {3}. Instead, Glazyev is treated to public dressing-downs from Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Glazyev, to be sure, is a prickly, vain character with a voice pitch that compares unfavourably to chalk across a blackboard. Those are not disqualifications for his ideas.

In his latest presentation on the economy, Putin sounded all of Hellevig’s findings, with the exception of the imports-to-GDP ratio and surpassing Germany. However, Putin committed to none of Hellevig’s recommendations. For the full text of the president’s June 15 “Direct Line” broadcast, read {4}. Addressing the criticism of Central Bank interest rate policy – the only Russian target Hellevig explicitly attacks – Putin agreed with the critics; he also agreed with the Central Bank.

“I very much hope that the Central Bank continues to move cautiously towards reducing the key interest rate”, Putin started.
 

Why has the Central Bank adopted such a cautious approach? Unfortunately, the Russian economy still depends on oil and gas. The price of natural gas depends on the price of oil, and a special formula is used to calculate it. The price of oil has recently exceeded $50, and today it is only $48, I think. The Central Bank believes that if it declines, the key interest rate would have to be adjusted. What matters most for us right now is not the key interest rate itself, but avoiding any sharp fluctuations in the key interest rate. We need to ensure a stable exchange rate for our national currency, the ruble. This is what underpins the Central Bank’s cautious approach. Some may like it, others may not. I am simply trying to explain the Central Bank’s logic. It deserves respect.

 

So who else is Hellewig addressing with the new report? The regrettable answer is no one in particular. Russia’s enemies are in for a long war, Hellevig acknowledges himself. US Congress action to finalize the new sanctions bill may come this month, even before the August summer recess; for details of the new Russian targets and the US weapons to be deployed, according to the new statute {5}. A veto by President Trump is unlikely because there are two-thirds majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives to override.

So Hellevig’s “What Doesn’t Kill You” is a report in a vacuum unless it is convincing in the domestic producers’ market, and in foreign investor markets.

Sentiment for the future of the Russian economy is measurable in what Russians with cash and capital say they plan to do. If they are producing, shipping, buying and selling more, that will show in growth rates for electricity consumption, cargo tonnage moved on railroads, and the flow of cash and capital goods inward and outward. The latest measures of the electricity and rail indicators show single-digit growth upon the depressed base numbers prevailing last year. However, the numbers for capital outflow, including Russian businessmen on the run, are also growing. The closer you get to the individuals who are moving their cash abroad, the less confidence in the future you hear.

From the regular monthly polling of confidence in the future on the part of Russian businesses, it’s clear there is less optimism than Hellevig’s: the score last month remained negative, as it had been in April and May. The minus-one score wasn’t as bad as last December, but at minus-eight, even that was nowhere near as bad as the all-time low in measured Russian business confidence – minus-twenty in 2008. For more details, see {6}.

The sentiment of foreign investors should be estimated differently. The long money goes into Russian debt; the short or hot money is in Russian equity. Normally, they move in parallel. But for confidence in Russian bonds and confidence in Russian shares, the trend lines this year have been running in opposite directions. By the end of June, foreign buying of Russian debt issues rose sharply, compared to April and May, with an aggregate of $2.8 billion invested last month. For shares the situation has been the reverse. Funds holding Russian shares have been selling steadily for the past four months, and $1.6 billion has been withdrawn over this period, according to EPFR Global.

Links:

{1} https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/russian-economy-2014-2016-the-years-of-sanctions-warfare/

{2} http://www.investopedia.com/updates/purchasing-power-parity-ppp/

{3} http://johnhelmer.net/president-putin-puts-another-stop-to-alexei-kudrins-ambition-kudrin-isnt-an-avis-rent-a-car-wont-be-number-2-wont-try-harder/

{4} http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54790

{5} http://johnhelmer.net/us-senate-strikes-for-russian-equality-the-oligarchs-targeted-in-new-sanctions-bill/

{6} https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/business-confidence

_____

John Helmer is the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at http://johnhelmer.net/how-the-russian-economy-looks-if-you-arent-wearing-nato-night-fighting-goggles/.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/07/john-helmer-russian-economy-looks-arent-wearing-nato-night-fighting-goggles.html

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The End of the “New American Century …

… Pronounced by the Pentagon

by Wayne Madsen

Strategic Culture Foundation (July 23 2017)

The US Department of Defense is fond of issuing reports, many of which contain a massive amount of Pentagon jargon and gobbledygook terms. But, one recent report, while not lacking in typical gibberish, contains one clear and unambiguous message. The neo-conservative “New American Century” pet project, which saw the United States engage in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an unending “global war on terror”, is dead and buried.

A US Army War College (USAWC) report, titled “At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World”, has raised eyebrows inside the Washington Beltway and beyond. The report, written by an Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and USAWC team headed by Professor Nathan Freier, states it does “not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the US Government”. It is doubtful the report, sponsored by the Joint Staff of the Pentagon, would have been commissioned had the Pentagon not seen the need to prepare for the end of America’s unipolar military dominance that has been in place since the end of the Cold War.

The post-primacy report saw input from the Department of Defense and US Intelligence Community, including the Joint Staff, the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), all critical stakeholders in the revamped US military strategy.

Lest anyone believe that the report represents a new way of thinking by the Donald Trump administration, it should be pointed out that the commissioning and preparation of the report began in July 2016, six months before the end of the Barack Obama administration. The report was a budgeted requirement contained in Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Pentagon budget.

The report identified five key components of the US post-primacy strategy:

* Hyperconnectivity and weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection (this has already seen a decision to split the US Cyber Command off from the National Security Agency to allow cyber-warriors extra-constitutional “leg room” to conduct offensive information warfare operations against both military and civilian targets).

* A rapidly fracturing post-Cold War status quo.

* Proliferation, diversification, and atomization of effective counter-US resistance.

* Resurgent but transformed great power competition.

* Violent or disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity.

The Pentagon’s acceptance that there is a “rapidly fracturing post-Cold War status quo” is perhaps the most important realization of a change in superpower status since the United Kingdom concluded that the days of the British Empire were at a close. This resulted in the decision of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in January 1968 to withdraw all British military forces from “East of Suez”. Defense Minister Denis Healey made the dramatic announcement that all British military forces would be withdrawn by 1971 from major military bases in South East Asia, “east of Aden”, primarily in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the Persian Gulf and the Maldives. The decision saw the independence of Aden as a socialist republic – South Yemen, the leasing to the United States of a military base on Diego Garcia in the newly-formed British Indian Ocean Territory (along with the removal of Chagos Islanders from their native islands), the independence of the Trucial States as the United Arab Emirates, and transfer to US control of a British naval base in Bahrain.

The Pentagon’s post-primacy report questions the need for foreign military bases in support of “surge” military operations. The report states “considerations of surge can no longer be limited to high-end combined arms warfighting”. This is a tip of the hat to the cyber-fighters who may see their own capabilities increased with the de-prioritization of surge military combat. The report also states that DoD “no longer can – as in the past – automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range”. In other words, forget about a US military response such as Operation Desert Shield that saw a massive transfer of US military might to Saudi Arabia prior to the retaking of Kuwait and the first US invasion of Iraq in 1991.

The Pentagon sees some international risks as acceptable if they can be managed. This risk mitigation appears to be focused on the North Korean nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile threat. The report states that the US should avoid “policy goals that prove overly ambitious or unattainable in practice”. A US military defeat of North Korea would only be possible after the resulting mass deaths of South Korean and American military personnel and civilians in South Korea”. Chalk off a US military defeat of North Korea as “overly ambitious” and “unattainable”. The report also states that there are “prohibitive costs” involved in some military policies. The authors urge that American military doctrine steer clear of “objectives or goals that in the end prove little more than Pyrrhic victories”. This is a clear reference to the quagmires and “false victories” previously proclaimed by the US and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Pyrrhic victories in the truest sense of the term.

One member of the post-primacy study team shocked his colleagues by telling them that it is very possible for the US to be defeated in some military confrontations. The “we can lose” specter helped guide the conclusions of the report. Among the conclusions are the possibilities that “the vulnerability, erosion, or even loss of assumed US military advantage vis-a-vis many of its most consequential defense-relevant challenges” should be taken seriously and that the “volatile restructuring of international security affairs appears increasingly inhospitable to unchallenged American leadership”. The emergence of China as a significant world military power and the re-emergence of Russia as a military power are cases in point. Turkey’s steady drift away from Europe into a “Eurasian” and “pan-Turkic” world view adds the Nato nation to a growing list of potential US adversaries. These and other developments are seen by the post-primacy planners as a part of “resurgent but transformed great power competition”.

The Pentagon study team also clearly views the “violent or disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity” as a watershed in altering the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras that saw a dominance of the United States over global military and economic affairs. The success of the Brexit referendum that saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, as well as popular support for the independence of Scotland and Catalonia are seen by the Pentagon as “disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity”. Whereas in past Pentagon reports there would have been suggestions on how to counter such “disruption” with a military and counter-insurgency response, in the post-primacy world, the Pentagon is merely calling for the management of the risk involved. It is a far cry from rattling sabers and sounding the clarions for war, whether in Libya and Syria or Somalia and Panama.

The post-primacy report recognizes that the post-9/11 US military policy is no longer practicable nor doable. That policy, spelled out in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for 2001, stated: “the foundation of a peaceful world … rests on the ability of the US Armed Forces to maintain a substantial margin of national military advantage relative to others. The US uses this advantage not to dominate others, but … to dissuade new functional or geographic military competitions from emerging and to manage them if they do.” Those days are over with China and Russia, along with Turkey, Iran, Germany, France, and India forming “new functional military competitions”. The US is unable to “manage” them, so Washington will have to determine how to live with the “risks”.

The report’s authors believe that “the status quo that was hatched and nurtured by US strategists after World War Two and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing. Consequently, the United States’ role in and approach to the world may be fundamentally changing as well.” This is a cogent view of the present state of world affairs minus the jingoism often heard from the Trump White House and right-wing members of the US Congress.

The post-primacy recommendations see the primary priority for the United States as the protection of US territory: “Secure US territory, people, infrastructure, and property against significant harm”.

The second priority is to “secure access to the global commons and strategic regions, markets, and resources”. This would include keeping sea lanes and air routes open for US commerce.

The report’s authors agree with the pronouncement of British Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech in Philadelphia on January 26 2017, six days after the inauguration of Donald Trump: “The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over … the UK will only intervene where there are British national interests … Nations are accountable to their populations, and their powers are derived from the consent of the governed and they can choose to join international organizations, cooperate, or trade with whom they wish”.

There is one clear message in the Pentagon’s “post primacy” report. The days of US-led dubious “coalitions of the willing” taking unilateral military action are over.

_____

Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal http://www.strategic-culture.org.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/23/the-end-new-american-century-pronounced-pentagon.html

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How Will the Empire End?

by Chris at http://www.CapitalistExploits.at

Zero Hedge (July 22 2017)

It was back in the early 1800s that the Brits left the sodden, miserable shores of their murky island, grabbed their trumpets, tucked their trousers into the socks, and began conquering the world with the cunning use of flags.

Like all good conquerors, they had a backup plan in the event flags didn’t work – guns, which – as it turned out – work bloody well.

From about 1815 to 1915, our tea-drinking friends were so successful in this endeavor that the soggy little island in the North Atlantic had turned nearly a quarter of the globe red at its peak.

They were, of course, not the first to embark on empire building.

Ahead of them is a long list: the Babur Empire, lasting from the 17th to 18th century and spanning Europe and Asia. Then there was the “Golden Horde”… the Mongols, who at the height of their reign, incorporated over a quarter of the worlds land mass.

Let’s not forget Pax Romana. The empire lasted 500 years and at its height extended into Africa, Europe, and the Middle East and bullied about a quarter of the world’s population. All impressive in its own right.

The structure was a familiar one. Tried and tested. The state provides security (military) to ensure stability and enforcement of legal contracts. And while this cost a lot of money, in return the vassal states pay taxes to the empire.

As long as the taxes exceeded the costs of keeping the restless natives in check things were golden. As we know this math didn’t last forever for any of the empires, including the Brits, who (under increasing costs and decreasing revenues) lost their shiny empire, put away their flags, trudged back to the pub to talk about the weather, and became plumbers.

During their conquering reign, however, they gifted large swathes of the rest of the world common law principles (used to this day) and lessons in how to be frightfully polite (not used to this day). In return, the rest of the world gifted them actual cuisine which is why today we don’t starve when visiting the soggy island. Without it, I assure you, the place would be completely empty of visitors.

What is fascinating is that the collapse of the British empire ushered in modern nation states as we know them today.

In 1960 the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Harold Macmillan, delivered a famous speech known as the “Wind of Change” where he discussed this:
 

One of the constant facts of political life in Europe has been the emergence of independent nations … Especially since the end of the war, the processes which gave birth to the nation-states of Europe have been repeated all over the world …

Fifteen years ago this movement spread through Asia. Many countries there, of different races and civilization, pressed their claim to an independent national life. Today the same thing is happening in Africa …

In different places, it may take different forms, but it is happening everywhere. The wind of change is blowing through the continent … Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact.

 

You may have noticed that all of the power structures mentioned above were centralized structures. Top down – like a pyramid, with the wealth accumulating at the top.

Even the emergence of individual nation states was and they are really just “mini me’s” of an empire structure, which is to say centralized. This all made perfect sense in the industrial age where commandeering and controlling costly infrastructure was critical. Things such as railroads, canals, mines. Today, we live in a different world, which I’ll come to in a bit, but first …

Drawing Parallels With Today

Just as each empire has finally succumbed to the gravity of unprofitable ventures, today we have much of the developed world laboring under similar problems.

Europe, the poster child for socialism, has a structure whereby member states in the EU contribute to a centralized bureaucracy and receive a number of benefits in return. The problem is the math doesn’t work.

Across the ditch, our American friends have much the same issues. A top down structure, centralized … and ever increasingly so.

Today, however, the gravity forces at work are due to a setup where those in power will actually cause the demise of this structure. Let me show you how.

Today, the costs and losses of the empire (I’m using the term loosely here to include the nation states of the world but in particular the US and EU) are socialized. Like an insurance policy, the costs are distributed across society. The rewards are, however, privatized. They don’t accrue to the state … and this is very different from how the Romans or Genghis Khan ran things.

Lobby groups and big business push for policies and privileges that will benefit their chosen industry and/or business.

In turn, the state tilts the playing field in their favor. This comes at a cost, and that cost is a cost to the state, not the industry being favored.

When enough of this happens … like now, for instance, then the finances get all wonky. What’s ironic is that the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House is parasitic on the state, which in turn is a parasite on the citizenry.

Parasites can be fed and maintained up until the point where they kill the host. The Cheneys, Gores, Bushes, and Clintons of this world don’t siphon funds directly from the treasury like our friend Mugabe {2} and his ilk. They just do the same thing via companies and charities. It provides a cloak to true intentions … but the results are the same. A math problem which reaches the breaking point.

This is a problem not just for the US and Europe. It’s a problem for the nation state structure, which is more buggered than an altar boy in the Vatican.

This is because the centralized structure of not only running a country but doing business at every level is being destroyed.

The vast majority of real wealth in the world today involves intellectual property {3}, and in the information age … which is where we find ourselves living in today, this matters a great deal to centralized structures.

Consider that, for the first time in history, individual companies are worth more than the most modern large governments of the world. It is a consequence of an ongoing unstoppable trend towards decentralization, and it promises to bring us an entirely different empire that will follow the existing one.

While it’s easy enough to see that the empire won’t last … what replaces it will, I believe, look distinctly different to yet another centralized nation state. This I’ll deal with in some other article, but one thing I’m confident in is that the distribution of wealth isn’t likely to change. Pareto’s principle is well defined and consistent. What changes are those at the top and those at the bottom? For today’s article, let’s ask the question of what … or how this empire succumbs.

Will the catalyst be the massive bond bubble breaking? And yes, boys and girls … it is a bubble.


US 10-year, German Bund 10-year, UK Gilt 10-year

The philosopher Nietzsche noted:
 

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, it is the rule.

 

Or will it be some military fiasco?

Qatar, North Korea, Russia, South China Sea, Syria escalating and drawing in more participants.

Or something else?

Question:


Wow Poll 17 Jul 2017 {4}

Cast your vote {4} and also see what others think awaits us.
 

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.

– Ariel Durant

 

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Links:

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{3} https://capitalistexploits.at/2017/06/solving-liquidity-problem-not-think/

{4} https://capitalistexploits.at/2017/07/will-empire-end/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-22/how-will-empire-end

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Japan’s Shifting Power Alliances

by Nomi Prins

The Daily Reckoning (July 21 2017)

Zero Hedge (July 22 2017)

I’ve just wrapped up a long trip to Japan. And I’ve taken away one lesson from all of my conversations, speeches, and research: The rise of nationalism in the US will cause massive shifts in global trade alliances.

One of the main beneficiaries will be Japan. Now, Japan might not be on your radar, day-to-day, but it’s about to play a very important role in the world of Donald Trump.

Here’s what I mean …

During President Trump’s campaign, he often discussed making “better” trade deals for the United States with its partners.

Indeed, one of his first executive orders as President on January 23 2017, involved removing the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, or TPP. That agreement originally involved twelve countries including the US

Now, TPP is left with eleven: Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The TPP’s member countries account for forty percent of global GDP, twenty percent of global trade, and 11.3 percent of the world’s population. It will still likely go ahead without the US, which will put America at a trading disadvantage.

However, this offers Japan good news for future trade and projects. Japan is well positioned to benefit both from existing alliances with the US and growing ones in the rest of the world, particularly with China and the EU.

Another key agreement, called the RCEP {1}, also excludes the US but includes Japan. It represents sixteen countries that account for almost half the world’s population, contribute 24% percent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports.

The countries are Japan, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The economic and population growth rates of the RCEP countries far outpaces that of the US and EU.

This trend of non-US trade alliances is more pronounced than ever for three reasons:

First, because of the United Kingdom vote for Brexit last summer, which cast into flux the future trade and capital flows between the UK and its trading partners.

The second reason is the Trump doctrine of bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements. Taking the US out of critical multilateral contention during an intense period of international re-alignment means more economic opportunity for other budding alliances as well as a long-term power shift. This would benefit Japan.

Finally, there is the ongoing West to East shift of power {2} and influence. Since the Federal Reserve and its cohorts at the ECB and BOJ embarked upon quantitative easing, or asset buying to bolster the markets, debt to GDP levels in those areas jumped as well. Respectively, they are 90.1 percent for the ECB, 104.3 percent for the US, and 250.4 percent for Japan).

Pushback, particularly from China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, has resulted in the yuan’s inclusion into the IMF’s special drawing right, or SDR {3}. This is a way of securing currency flows and challenging the world’s main reserve currency, the US dollar.

Japan stands ready to benefit from both its existing relationship with the US and its involvement with China, the EU, and other regional agreements.

All that said, the US and Japan still represent about thirty percent of global GDP. With so much in flux worldwide and in Asia, their combined strength and diplomatic ties could prove more fruitful for both countries if translated quickly to real infrastructure building and development projects. These could create long-term demand for knowledge, supplies, and jobs.

New Infrastructure Projects for Japan

The last time I was in Tokyo was a week after the US election when I addressed the Tokyo stock exchange. There was much interest from the Japanese as to what the Trump presidency would mean for Japan, particularly in the areas of defense and trade.

Six months into Trump’s administration, that interest remains acute. In February, President Trump addressed military and defense, saying he is committed to “the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control”.

This was a victory for Abe, who came to Washington to develop a sense of trust with Trump and a solidification of the post-World War Two US-Japan alliance.

A White House statement confirmed policy continuity, noting, “Amid an increasingly difficult security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States will strengthen its presence in the region, and Japan will assume larger roles and responsibilities in the alliance”.

From the standpoint of joint infrastructure projects, there are other, nearer term synergies that are also attractive investment opportunities.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, there have been two official visits between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe. Trump has not been to Japan as President yet but it’s rumored that he has a trip planned for November.

Meanwhile, the two leaders just met at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Before that meeting, Japan and the EU signed a historic free trade agreement that will greatly increase trade and coordination between the two regions.

This is yet another sign of how eager Japan is to take a bigger position on the world stage. As the US adopts a more nationalist tone to trade, major trading partners like Japan are looking for more regional capacity building. By diversifying international agreements, Japan could solidify its security while re-establishing itself as a re-emerging Asian {2} powerhouse.

Japan is also eager to get more involved in major infrastructure projects around the world. Just last week, the Japanese government set a new goal for Japan Inc, a network of corporate allegiances supporting construction, labor, and jobs. The goal is to export thirty trillion yen ($268 billion) worth of infrastructure packages by 2020.

According to its just-released draft plans, Japan Inc will seek involvement in infrastructure projects over multiple phases, spanning development through post-completion, providing on-the-ground ongoing operational, maintenance, personnel training and consulting services.

Japan Inc plans are multinational. The group, or its participating companies, could target India to get involved in the development of bullet trains and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for high-speed rail systems and non-public transportation projects.

Japan Emerges in High-Speed Competition

Japan, Inc also launched a competitive move against China for a high-speed train from Malaysia to Thailand. This is a 350-kilometer link project, worth about $14 billion. Winning that, or a portion of that contract could prove a boon for Japanese construction and engineering companies.

The winning company would be responsible for the design and construction of the railway systems, including tracks, power, signaling and telecommunications. The train will have a maximum operating speed of 320 kilometers per hour and cut travel time between the capitals to ninety minutes, compared with nearly five hours by car.

But there’s more. Japan Inc is also angling for the US maglev train project. The initial leg is estimated at $10 billion to build – the Japan Bank for International Cooperation has offered to pay half of the cost.

Reuters (CNBC) {4} reported on February 3 that Tokyo had proposed an investment package for Trump that could generate 700,000 US jobs and help create a $450 billion market. The proposal was in line with Abe’s strategy of promoting Japanese high-tech exports and expertise overseas.

Reuters sources also noted that Japan was proposing to invest seventeen trillion yen (US$150 billion) in public and private funds in the US over the next decade.

Japan’s main regional competitor, China, has also been gaining momentum on regional and international projects. Japan has missed some bids there, but it has the opportunity to use its unique favored-nation position with the US, and as a major partner in the ASEAN and RCEP agreements, to be well-placed to pick up fresh, lucrative contracts.

Topping that all off, Japan’s new free trade agreement with the EU will be the third largest in the world. It’s expected to benefit both powers immediately by removing tariffs for a number of products, including electronics, sake, and tea from Japan.

If the Trump administration makes good on its promise to build cooperation with the Japanese, collaborating on infrastructure projects would only further Japan’s position in the region.

Links:

{1} http://asean.org/?static_post=rcep-regional-comprehensive-economic-partnership

{2} https://dailyreckoning.com/japan-role-west-east-power-shift/

{3} https://dailyreckoning.com/dont-get-caught-us-china-crossfire-part-ii/

{4} http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/03/abe-says-japan-to-show-unwavering-alliance-with-us-under-trump.html

https://dailyreckoning.com/japan-power-alliances/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-22/japans-shifting-power-alliances

Categories: Uncategorized

The Reign of Propaganda

by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org (July 20 2017)

If truth has a chance it is in a different country than America.

Masters of propaganda from its inventor, Jewish public relations expert Edward Louis James Bernays, to the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Paul Joseph Goebbels, agree that a lie can be turned into truth by constant repetition.

The purer the lie, the more complete the success in turning it into The Truth. Lies partly based in fact or half-truths open themselves to factual challenge. For a propagandist, the best lie is a lie unfettered by even a distant relationship to truth. Such a lie can be turned into such self-evident truth that no evidence is necessary. As Nikki Haley and Hillary Clinton put it:

Evidence! We don’t need any stinking evidence. We know Russia hacked our election!

 

For the typical American, who doesn’t know anything, the confidence of the former Secretary of State and “rightful President of the USA” and the confidence of President Donald Trump’s own Ambassador to the United Nations are sufficient to convince them that the lie that Russia stole the US presidency for Trump is true. We all know it. Why? Because we have all heard it endlessly repeated for many months. As one acquaintance said: “If it were false, surely the media would have exposed it”. This insouciant naivete is characteristic of Western populations.

As Bernays and Goebbels knew, one good propagandist can control the opinion of the targeted group, whether it is a gender or a nation.

Initially, for Bernays, the targeted group was American women. As a propagandist for an American tobacco company, “the father of spin” promoted female smoking as a sign of feminist independence. He called cigarettes “Torches of Freedom”. He also provided the propaganda that enabled the United Fruit Company to have the US Government overthrow the elected government of Guatemala in 1954.

Goebbels turned Germans into servants of the Third Reich, an accomplishment the neoconservatives have yet to attain in the United States, but they are still working at it.

The neoconservatives, the military/security complex, the Israel Lobby, and the US presstitutes have succeeded in blocking Trump from withdrawing from Syria and from normalizing relations with Russia. They have succeeded in this by using their fabrication, “Russia-gate”, to put President Trump in a box. If Trump now normalizes relations with Russia, it will be presented to the world by the presstitutes as proof that the Putin/Trump conspiracy against Western democracy is real. If Trump were to normalize relations, thereby removing “the threat” that justifies the power and profit of the military/security complex’s budget, he would likely be impeached as a traitor to the USA. Trump’s tweets would be overwhelmed by the onslaught of the presstitutes.

Americans, British, Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Indians, and everyone else need to understand that Washington’s hostility toward Russia is in the service of powerful interest groups. These interest groups are more powerful than the President of the US.

Israel and its design on the Middle East is one of these powerful interest groups. As Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said,

No American president can stand up to Israel.

 

The neoconservatives, who serve both the Zionist state of Israel and the US military/security complex, are another of the powerful interest groups that constrain the American government. That the neocons are firmly allied with Israel and the military/security complex increases their power and influence. President Eisenhower warned Americans in 1961 in his last public address to the American people that the power of the military/industrial complex made it a threat to American democracy:

Eisenhower’s warning was 56 years ago. With the President of the United States concerned about the military/industrial complex 56 years ago, try to imagine how much more this power is entrenched after the decades of the Cold War and “Soviet Threat”. The power of the military/security complex is the premier power in Washington.

Eisenhower’s speech is the best speech any American President has ever delivered. It is only fourteen minutes and four seconds long, yet it covers everything. There is an awareness that we can be victims of our own success. Whatever their public position, neoconservatives have no alternative but to hate President Eisenhower with a passion, because he compared the threat to America from the military/industrial complex to the threat from the Soviet Union.

Americans need to wise up, as do the Russians, Chinese, Europeans and everyone else over whom the neoconservatives intend to exercise hegemony regardless of the cost. The total budget of the US military/security complex has been estimated at $1.1 trillion, a figure that is seventy¬†percent of Russia’s estimated 2017 GDP. It is larger than the GDP of Mexico and Turkey. It is 45% of the GDP of France or England, and 32% of the GDP of Germany. There are 195 countries in the world. Only fourteen of them have a Gross Domestic Product larger than the budget of the US military/security complex.

Washington’s wars in the Middle East involve many interests, including mundane ones such as who controls pipeline locations and energy flows. It also involves Israel’s interests. Twice Israel has sent its army into southern Lebanon for the purpose of occupying and annexing the water resources of southern Lebanon, and twice the militia Hezbollah has defeated and driven out the Israeli army, the fighting capability of which is overrated. Hezbollah receives financial and military support from Syria and Iran. Using their neoconservative allies and the orchestrated-by-propaganda American hatred of Muslims, Israel intends to use the US military to put Syria and Iran in the same state of chaos as Iraq and Libya. If deprived of outside support, Hezbollah can finally be defeated by the Israeli army. With Syria and Iran in chaos, the Russophobic neoconservatives can send jihadism into the Russian Federation to break up the biggest constraint on US unilateralism.

If we consider the combined power of these interest groups – the US military/security complex with an annual budget greater than the GDP of most countries, the neoconservatives with their ideology of US world hegemony and alliance with both Democratic and Republican parties, and Israel which has the US government in its pocket and brags about it – how is it possible for President Trump to do as he said he would do and normalize relations with Russia and withdraw from the US interventions in the Middle East? The prospect of Trump succeeding is remote.

If the Russian government fails to understand that President Trump is not the one who is in charge, Russia will be destroyed along with America and the rest of the world.

Copyright (c) 2016 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/20/the-reign-of-propaganda/

Categories: Uncategorized

Zombies R Us …

… the Walking Dead of the American Police State

by John W Whitehead

CounterPunch (July 19 2017)


Photo by MELISSA MATHIES | CC BY 2.0

Monsters in movies are us, always us, one way or the other. They’re us with hats on. The zombies in George Romero’s movies are us. They’re hungry. Monsters are us, the dangerous parts of us. The part that wants to destroy. The part of us with the reptile brain. The part of us that’s vicious and cruel. We express these in our stories as the monsters out there. The zombies are back. They are hungry. And they are lurking around every corner.

– Filmmaker John Carpenter

 

RIP George Romero (1940~2017).

Romero – a filmmaker hailed as the architect of the zombie genre – is dead at the age of 77, but the zombified police state culture he railed against lives on.

Just take a look around you.

“We the people” have become the walking dead of the American police state.

We’re still plagued by the socio-political evils of cultural apathy, materialism, domestic militarism, and racism that Romero depicted in his Night of the Living Dead trilogy.

Romero’s zombies have taken on a life of their own in pop culture, as well.

Indeed, you don’t have to look very far anymore to find them lurking around every corner: wreaking havoc in movie blockbusters, running for their lives in 5K charity races, and putting government agents through their paces in mock military drills arranged by the Department of Defense (“DoD”) and the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”).

In fact, the CDC put together a zombie apocalypse preparation kit “that details everything you would need to have on hand in the event the living dead showed up at your front door”.

Zombies also embody the government’s paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished, and rendered impotent.

Case in point: in AMC’s hit television series The Walking Dead (2010 ~) and the spinoff Fear the Walking Dead (2015 ~), it’s not just flesh-eating ghouls and cannibalistic humans that survivors have to worry about but the police state “tasked with protecting the vulnerable” that poses some of the gravest threats to the citizenry.

As David Sims writes for The Atlantic:

More than anything, Fear the Walking Dead is a drama about occupation, the breakdown of society, and the¬†ease with which seemingly decent people can decide that might makes right. Like any dystopian fiction, it’s easy to dismiss as fantasy, but remove the zombies and Fear could be taking place in dozens of real-world locations … This is happening here … but it could happen anywhere.

 

Why the fascination with zombies?

Perhaps it’s because zombie fiction provides us with a way to “envision how we and our own would thrive if everything went to hell and we lost all our societal supports”. As Time magazine reporter James Poniewozik phrases it, the “apocalyptic drama lets us face the end of the world once a week and live”.

Writing for The New York Times, Terrence Rafferty notes:

In the case of zombie fiction, you have to wonder whether our 21st-century fascination with these hungry hordes has something to do with a general anxiety, particularly in the West, about the planet’s dwindling resources: a sense that there are too many people out there, with too many urgent needs, and that eventually these encroaching masses, dimly understood but somehow ominous in their collective appetites, will simply consume us. At this awful, pinched moment of history we look into the future and see a tsunami of want bearing down on us, darkening the sky. The zombie is clearly the right monster for this glum mood, but it’s a little disturbing to think that these nonhuman creatures, with their slack, gaping maws, might be serving as metaphors for actual people – undocumented immigrants, say, or the entire populations of developing nations – whose only offense, in most cases, is that their mouths and bellies demand to be filled.

 

In other words, zombies are the personification of our darkest fears.

Fear and paranoia have become hallmarks of the modern American experience, impacting how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us.

Fear makes people stupid.

Fear is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government. And, as most social commentators recognize, an atmosphere of fear permeates modern America: fear of terrorism, fear of the police, fear of our neighbors, and so on.

The propaganda of fear has been used quite effectively by those who want to gain control, and it is working on the American populace.

Despite the fact that we are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack; 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane; 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack, and eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist, we have handed over control of our lives to government officials who treat us as a means to an end – the source of money and power.

We have allowed ourselves to become fearful, controlled, pacified zombies.

Most everyone keeps their heads down these days while staring zombie-like into an electronic screen, even when they’re crossing the street. Families sit in restaurants with their heads down, separated by their screen devices and unaware of what’s going on around them. Young people especially seem dominated by the devices they hold in their hands, oblivious to the fact that they can simply push a button, turn the thing off and walk away.

Indeed, there is no larger group activity than that connected with those who watch screens – that is, television, lap tops, personal computers, cell phones and so on. In fact, a Nielsen study reports that American screen viewing is at an all-time high. For example, the average American watches approximately 151 hours of television per month.

Psychologically, such screen consumption is similar to drug addiction. Research shows that regardless of the programming, viewers’ brain waves slow down, thus transforming them into a more passive, non-resistant state.

Historically, television has been used by those in authority to quiet discontent and pacify disruptive people. “Faced with severe overcrowding and limited budgets for rehabilitation and counseling, more and more prison officials are using TV to keep inmates quiet”, according to Newsweek.

Given that the majority of what Americans watch on television is provided through channels controlled by six mega corporations, what we watch is now controlled by a corporate elite and, if that elite needs to foster a particular viewpoint or pacify its viewers, it can do so on a large scale.

We are being controlled by forces beyond our control.

This is how the police state takes charge.

As The Atlantic notes,

The villains of [Fear the Walking Dead] aren’t the zombies, who rarely appear, but the US military, who sweep into an Los Angeles suburb to quarantine the survivors. Zombies are, after all, a recognizable threat – but Fear plumbs drama and horror from the betrayal by institutions designed to keep people safe.

 

What we are experiencing is a betrayal of the very core values – a love of freedom, an adherence to the rule of law, a spirit of democracy, a commitment to accountability and transparency, and a recognition that civilian rule must always trump military methods – that have guided this nation from its inception.

The challenge is not whether we can hold onto our freedoms in times of peace and prosperity, but whether we can do so when all hell breaks loose.

Fear the Walking Dead drives this point home by setting viewers down in the midst of social unrest, not unlike our own current events (“a bunch of weird incidents, police protests, riots, and … rapid social entropy”). Then, as Forbes reports, “the military showed up and we fast-forwarded into an ad hoc police state with no glimpse at what was happening in the world around our main cast of hapless survivors”.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that it will not take much for the government – that is, the military – to lock down the nation in the event of a national disaster.

The government is not out to keep us safe by monitoring our communications, tracking our movements, criminalizing our every action, treating us like suspects, and stripping us of our means of defense while equipping its own personnel with an amazing arsenal of weapons.

No, this is not security. It is an ambush. And it is being carried out in plain sight.

For example, for years now, the government has been carrying out military training drills with zombies as the enemy. In 2011, the DoD created a 31-page instruction manual for how to protect America from a terrorist attack carried out by zombie forces. In 2012, the CDC released a guide for surviving a zombie plague. That was followed by training drills for members of the military, police officers, and first responders.

The zombie exercises appeared to be kitschy and fun – government agents running around trying to put down a zombie rebellion – but what if the zombies in the exercises are us, the citizenry, viewed by those in power as mindless, voracious, zombie hordes?

Consider this: the government started playing around with the idea of using zombies as stand-ins for enemy combatants in its training drills right around the time the Army War College issued its 2008 report, warning that an economic crisis in the US could lead to massive civil unrest that would require the military to intervene and restore order.

That same year, it was revealed that the government had amassed more than eight million names of Americans considered a threat to national security, to be used “by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution, or the imposition of martial law”. The program’s name, Main Core, refers to the fact that it contains “copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the US intelligence community”.

Also in 2008, the Pentagon launched the Minerva Initiative, a $75 million military-driven research project focused on studying social behavior in order to determine how best to cope with mass civil disobedience or uprisings. The Minerva Initiative has funded projects such as “Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?” which “conflates peaceful activists with ‘supporters of political violence’ who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on ‘armed militancy’ themselves”.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued its reports on Rightwing and Leftwing Extremism, in which the terms “extremist” and “terrorist” were used interchangeably to describe citizens who were disgruntled or anti-government.

Meanwhile, a government campaign was underway to spy on Americans’ mail, email, and cell phone communications. News reports indicate that the US Postal Service has handled more than 150,000 requests by federal and state law enforcement agencies to monitor Americans’ mail, in addition to photographing every piece of mail sent through the postal system.

Fast forward a few years more and you have local police being transformed into extensions of the military, taught to view members of their community as suspects, trained to shoot first and ask questions later, and equipped with all of the technology and weaponry of a soldier on a battlefield.

In 2015, the Obama administration hired a domestic terrorism czar whose job is to focus on anti-government American “extremists” who have been designated a greater threat to America than ISIS or al Qaeda. As part of the government’s so-called war on right-wing extremism, the Obama administration agreed to partner with the United Nations to take part in its Strong Cities Network program, which is training local police agencies across America in how to identify, fight and prevent extremism.

In other words, those who believe in and exercise their rights under the Constitution (namely, the right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share their political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), are now at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Pentagon has been using a dystopian training video to prepare armed forces to solve future domestic political and social problems which they anticipate arising by 2030. It’s only five minutes long, but the military training video says a lot about the government’s mindset, the way its views the citizenry, and the so-called “problems” that the military must be prepared to address in the near future, which include criminal networks, illicit economies, decentralized syndicates of crime, substandard infrastructure, religious and ethnic tensions, impoverishment, economic inequality, protesters, slums, open landfills, overburdened sewers, and a “growing mass of unemployed”.

Even more troubling, however, is what this military video doesn’t say about the Constitution, about the rights of the citizenry, and about the dangers of using the military to address political and social problems.

Noticing a pattern yet?

“We the people” or, more appropriately, “we the zombies” are the enemy in the eyes of the government.

So when presented with the Defense Department’s battle plan for defeating an army of the walking dead, you might find yourself tempted to giggle over the fact that a taxpayer-funded government bureaucrat actually took the time to research and write about vegetarian zombies, evil magic zombies, chicken zombies, space zombies, bio-engineered weaponized zombies, radiation zombies, symbiont-induced zombies, and pathogenic zombies.

However, in an age of extreme government paranoia, this is no laughing matter.

The DoD’s strategy for dealing with a zombie uprising, outlined in “CONOP 8888”, is for all intents and purposes a training manual for the government in how to put down a citizen uprising or at least an uprising of individuals “infected” with dangerous ideas about freedom.

Rest assured that the tactics and difficulties outlined in the “fictional training scenario” are all too real, beginning with martial law.

So how does the military plan to put down a zombie (aka disgruntled citizen) uprising?

The strategy manual outlines five phases necessary for a counter-offensive: shape, deter, seize initiative, dominate, stabilize and restore civil authority. Here are a few details:

Phase 0 (Shape): Conduct general zombie awareness training. Monitor increased threats (that is, surveillance). Carry out military drills. Synchronize contingency plans between federal and state agencies. Anticipate and prepare for a breakdown in law and order.

Phase 1 (Deter): Recognize that zombies cannot be deterred or reasoned with. Carry out training drills to discourage other countries from developing or deploying attack zombies and publicly reinforce the government’s ability to combat a zombie threat. Initiate intelligence sharing between federal and state agencies. Assist the Department of Homeland Security in identifying or discouraging immigrants from areas where zombie-related diseases originate.

Phase 2 (Seize initiative): Recall all military personnel to their duty stations. Fortify all military outposts. Deploy air and ground forces for at least 35 days. Carry out confidence-building measures with nuclear-armed peers such as Russia and China to ensure they do not misinterpret the government’s zombie countermeasures as preparations for war. Establish quarantine zones. Distribute explosion-resistant protective equipment. Place the military on red alert. Begin limited scale military operations to combat zombie threats. Carry out combat operations against zombie populations within the United States that were “previously” US citizens.

Phase 3 (Dominate): Lock down all military bases for thirty days. Shelter all essential government personnel for at least forty days. Equip all government agents with military protective gear. Issue orders for the military to kill all non-human life on sight. Initiate bomber and missile strikes against targeted sources of zombie infection, including the infrastructure. Burn all zombie corpses. Deploy military to lock down the beaches and waterways.

Phase 4 (Stabilize): Send out reconnaissance teams to check for remaining threats and survey the status of basic services (water, power, sewage infrastructure, air, and lines of communication). Execute a counter-zombie ISR plan to ID holdout pockets of zombie resistance. Use all military resources to target any remaining regions of zombie holdouts and influence. Continue all actions from the Dominate phase.

Phase 5 (Restore civil authority): Deploy military personnel to assist any surviving civil authorities in disaster zones. Reconstitute combat capabilities at various military bases. Prepare to redeploy military forces to attack surviving zombie holdouts. Restore basic services in disaster areas.

Notice the similarities?

Surveillance. Military drills. Awareness training. Militarized police forces. Martial law.

Mind you, the government is not being covert about any of this. It’s all out in the open.

If there is any lesson to be learned, it is simply this: as I point out in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People (2015), whether the threat to national security comes in the form of actual terrorists, imaginary zombies or disgruntled American citizens infected with dangerous ideas about freedom, the government’s response to such threats remains the same: detect, deter and annihilate.

It’s time to wake up, America, before you end up with a bullet to the head (the only proven means of killing a zombie).

As television journalist Edward R Murrow warned in a 1958 speech:

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

 

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/19/zombies-r-us-the-walking-dead-of-the-american-police-state/

Categories: Uncategorized

Dead Last!

New Study Finds US Healthcare System Ranks Dead Last Compared to Other Developed Nations

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (July 17 2017)

As Republicans sit on the precipice of fumbling what will likely be their one opportunity to repeal and replace America’s failed Obamacare experiment, a new study just released by The Commonwealth Fund found that the US, despite spending more money per capita than any other country on the planet, has the worst healthcare system in the developed world.

The Commonwealth Fund focused on evaluating five main areas of the healthcare system, including care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity, and health care outcomes and analyzed 72 indicators within those fields. Of the eleven countries included in the study, the US ranked dead last by a fairly staggering margin.

The United States spends far more on health care than other high-income countries, with spending levels that rose continuously over the past three decades (Exhibit 1). Yet the US population has poorer health than other countries.

Timely and accessible health care could mitigate many of these challenges, but the US health care system falls short, failing to deliver indicated services reliably to all who could benefit. In particular, poor access to primary care has contributed to inadequate prevention and management of chronic diseases, delayed diagnoses, incomplete adherence to treatments, wasteful overuse of drugs and technologies, and coordination and safety problems.

Even worse, aside from “care process”, which tracks metrics related to preventative care and consistent engagement with the same family doctor over long periods of time, the US scored last (or thereabouts) in every single category of the study.

Adding insult to injury, these poor results come despite the fact that America spends roughly sixty percent more on healthcare, as a percentage of GDP, than the other countries in the study …

… a metric that will only get worse when the study is updated again in three years as we’ve recently shown that healthcare premiums have surged roughly 100% since 2013 (note that the cost portion of this latest study ended with data collected in 2014).

Can anyone spot the outlier?

But sure, we should probably just leave everything as is … Obamacare seems to be working just fine.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/interactives/2017/july/mirror-mirror/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-17/new-study-finds-us-healthcare-system-ranks-dead-last-compared-other-developed-nation

Categories: Uncategorized